Ups and Downs from Giants vs Rams

Nicholas LianosCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2011

Ups and Downs from Giants vs Rams

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    Monday Night Football is always a special game.  National television, big lights and an important must-win for the New York Giants against the St. Louis Rams.  

    Even in Week 2 of the National Football League, the Giants had to have this game.  They couldn't afford to lose their first two games before facing the defending division champs Philadelphia Eagles.  An 0-2 start would have killed any realistic shot of making the playoffs.  Knowing that, the Giants overcame a poor defensive start to beat the Saint Louis Rams, 28-16.  

    The victory evened the record at 1-1.  The win wasn't pretty, but I'm sure everyone will take it. It took a while, but the Giants offense finally got on track for a little while.  Still a work in progress, the offense put up 21 points against a good Rams' defense.

    The Defense was bad early, but improved as the game went along. Unable to stop the Rams no huddle, the Giants regrouped in the red zone, only giving up one touchdown.

    Here is what I liked and disliked against the Rams:

UP: Stuffing the Run

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    Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph stuffed the Rams' running attack—blowing up the inside allowing Boley, Jones and the secondary to make tackles for little gain.  

    JPP and Tuck also made their mark on the run as well, stuffing a couple of plays behind the line of scrimmage.  

    In two games against the Washington Redskins and Rams, the Giants' run defense has not been a problem.  Even when missing an expected key contributor in second-round pick Marvin Williams.

Down: Faking Injury

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    Do we need to go to this to stop the Rams?  Faking an injury is the last thing I expect the Giants to do.

    Veteran safety Deon Grant and rookie linebacker Williams fell to the turf with "injuries", allowing the defense to rest and settle down.  Shockingly enough, this was only mentioned once during the broadcast and not again.  

    The Giants were unprepared for the Rams' no-huddle attack from the start and had to resort to faking injuries to regroup the defense.  

    For a team that prides itself on the defense, the Giants took a low route to stopping a team.  

    I lost a lost of respect for the team tonight.  

Down: Aaron Ross' Coverage

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    Ever heard of Danario Alexander?  If you have, you must have seen the first few series against Aaron Ross.

    Can it get an worse for Aaron Ross?  It just did after Sam Bradford and the Rams picked him apart. For every good play he did (a couple of knockdowns), he gave up plays—four of which that were over 30 yards.  Yes, he was expecting help over the top, but his coverage was down right horrible.

    With the team hurting in the secondary, Ross should, and must, play better.  The Giants are going to need him the rest of the season.

    Imagine if the Giants traded up and drafted Revis instead of Ross?  

UP: Play Selection

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    It took a long, long time, but Kevin Gilbride's play selection was very good.  Mixing up the run and the pass made the offense less predictable.  It only took five years, but a less predictable offense will make the Giants a better football team.

    Bradshaw was involved early, as was Jacobs taking pressure off Eli Manning.  Manning had some throws he has to make in the first half if the Giants are going to be a playoff team.

Down: Special Teams

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    The coverage and return game remain horrible.  Besides the poor coverage, add bad penalties to it as well.  One penalty cost the Giants great field position (from their 45 to their 27) and the other went from pinning the Rams at their own five-yard line to giving it them at their 20.  

    Shockingly. all the directional punting the Giants are supposed to do can't stop the poor coverage. The gunners have done a poor job as well, missing tackles and not being able to pin down the returner.

    Time for some heads to roll. This can't continue to happen.

Up: Giant Linebackers

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    Thought to be the weakest link on the team before the season started, the linebacking group has played well.  Michael Boley, who has become the default leader of the defense after Justin Tuck, has played well against the run and the pass.  

    Rookie Greg Jones has seen some action mostly on running downs but has made plays.  Stuffing a goal-line run against the Rams makes you forget about Jonathan Goff.  

    Mathias Kiwanuaka  has played outstanding in switching back to linebacker, and Kiwi has seen spot action as defensive lineman in passing downs.  

Down: Offensive Line

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    The reshuffled offensive line has yet to get going.  It's going to take time for these guys to jell and become a good unit.  

    So far, William Beatty has done a good job for the Giants on the ground, but an average job in pass protection. How he does against Trent Cole will see how much he has improved.

    David Diehl rebounded from a horrendous game against the Redskins, to a decent job against the Rams. Relearning the guard position is going to take some time.

    David Baas has had a crash course in learning the Giants' offense.  Fifty days isn't enough time to learn the checks and calls the Giants' offensive line does at the line a scrimmage.  Bass, like the rest of the line, has shown flashes of good run blocking, but still has a hard time calling all the protection.

    Chris Snee has been a constant.  Still a monster in the running game, he has struggled from time to time in the pass protection.  A lot could be because the the chemistry issues with him and David Bass.

    Kareem McKenzie is starting to show signs of slowing down. Kareem has struggled with speed rushers this year. The Giants need him to get back to last year's form or it's going to be a long year for Eli.

Up: Taking Advantage of Mistakes

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    The Rams helped the Giants out, but the Giants kicked the door open when they had to.  Scoring after the opposition hands you a turnover always swings momentum to your side.  This game was no different. After a botched punt return, the Giants took advantage of a defensive penalty and erased a 3-0 deficit and turn it into seven.  

    Scoring on defense will always help your team.  Michael Boley's fumble return for a touchdown from Sam Bradford's lateral to Cadillac Williams gave the Giants a 14-6 lead. The Rams never recovered from it, either.

    Probably the most over-looked play was the Giants going from a first-and-20 on their 15-yard line to a first-and-10 after a defensive holding penalty against the Rams just before the two-minute warning.  The Giants were able to go for it then and moved down the field for a touchdown to give the Giants a 21-6 lead just before halftime.  

    The Giants were out gained by the Rams, but the Giants had a lot of hidden yardage in three pass interference calls and two defensive holding calls.  All these penalties helped the Giants convert points.   

Down: 3rd Downs

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    A Bronx cheer in the home opener after converting a third down says it's all about the Giants on third down.  After going 1-10 in third-down conversions, the Giants improved slightly against the Rams. 

    Not getting a lot of yardage on first and second downs with the running game has killed the Giants on third down.  Add the offensive line woes to it and that doesn't help either.  

    With no Steve Smith or Kevin Boss to help, other players need to step up that haven't.  Victor Cruz is first in mind that needs to step it up.  

    Brandon Stokely made his debut against the Rams, and will also need to help Manning out in the future.  Stokely will make some plays for the Giants as the season goes along.  

Up: Coache's Challange

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    Has Coach Coughlin ever gotten one wrong?  Against the Rams, Coughlin used his challenge to help his defense in key spots.  The first one forced the Rams to kick a field goal after the Rams couldn't convert a third-and-2 inside the Giants' five-yard line.  The key drop by Greg Salas held the Rams to 3 points.  

    The second challenge changed the Rams from a second-and-20 at the Giants' 35 to a second-and-25 at midfield, after Coughlin correctly challenged Justin Tuck's sack of Sam Bradford that was ruled an incomplete pass.  Replay showed Tuck tripped Bradshaw before he threw an incomplete pass.  While the play didn't stop the Rams from scoring, it gave the Giants another challenge if needed.

    Coach Coughlin has been the best coach with the challenge. Since the system has been installed, the coach has been right a remarkable 65 percent of the time.  That is an uncanny percentage.  

    Now only if the Giants could convert at this rate on third down.  

Downs: Injuries

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    Really, another key injury?  I'm starting to wonder who got the voodoo doll on the Giants.  We know about all the preseason injuries, but now Mario Manningham and Dominek Hixon are added to the list.  

    Enough is enough.  Manningham left the game against the Rams with a concussion and Domenik Hixon left the game with a calf/knee injury.  

    The secondary is thin with the injuries and now so is the wide receiver position.  Manningham will be questionable at best against the Eagles, and the same for Hixon.  With the Giants about to face the Philadelphia Sunday, we can't afford to lose another key player.

    Hixon's injury could be more devastating to the team, with him being the Giants' punt returner.  Aaron Ross is the Giants' backup returner. No need to add more problems to a struggling special teams with another injury.